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Discovery Crew Experiences a First in Orbit

The live performance from Big Head Todd & The Monsters was the first time a shuttle crew has been awakened live from Mission Control, Houston
The live performance from Big Head Todd & The Monsters was the first time a shuttle crew has been awakened live from Mission Control, Houston

The space shuttle Discovery’s crew experienced a first on the shuttle’s last full day in orbit. Our correspondent reports on the astronauts’ welcome wake-up call Tuesday morning.

If you have to wake up for work, an acoustic solo certainly beats a buzzing alarm clock.

The six astronauts on board the shuttle Discovery were awakened on their last full day in space by the song “Blue Sky,” performed live from Mission Control by the lead singer of the American rock band, Big Head Todd and the Monsters.

It was the first time NASA astronauts have ever been awakened by a live musical performance from Houston.

Discovery served as the inspiration for the song “Blue Sky.” Big Head Todd and the Monsters wrote it as a tribute for Discovery's return to orbital missions in 2005, two years after the space shuttle Columbia and its crew were lost in a re-entry explosion.

And it was “Blue Sky” that received the most votes in NASA’s contest to select which song Discovery’s astronauts would wake-up to on the final full day in orbit.

More than 2.4 million votes were tallied in NASA's Top 40 song contest, with “Blue Sky” earning nearly a third of them - more than 722,000 votes.

Discovery’s Commander Steve Lindsey congratulated the band on the win and thanked them for the early morning serenade.

The band’s lead singer, Todd Park Mohr, thanked the astronauts for their courage and bravery and for inspiring creativity back on Earth.

Commander Lindsey responded:

"We all wish you could see what we can see when we look out at the Earth, and, hopefully, everybody will be able to do that one of these days," said Lindsay. "Hopefully sooner rather than later."

The practice of waking up the astronauts with a song has been a part of the space program since the days of the Apollo program, and it looks as if it will continue through the shuttle program’s retirement this year. The public will be able to vote for wake-up songs for the upcoming Endeavour mission on NASA’s web site.

The runner-up song for Discovery’s final full workday served to wake up the crew Monday morning. The song, well known to space-watchers and spacewalkers alike, raked in more than 671,000 votes.

William Shatner, star of the classic television show Star Trek, even adapted the theme song for the Discovery crew.

March 8th is Discovery’s last full day in orbit before the shuttle heads into retirement. Discovery’s return to Earth on March 9th will not only complete its final, 13-day mission, but also mark its record 365th day in orbit.

Since Discovery first launched in 1984, it has logged more than 148 million miles in space…the final frontier.